These could be the songs of creatures who live in the moon, a gradually unfolding tapestry of silvery tones that balances charming polyphony with a gleaming metallic physicality. Cooing whines merge with ferric scrapes to create something at once familiar and strange, lunar ballads seeping through the wall of sleep. Or, perhaps, they are a stream of sound-waves generated on the fly by electronic means, the clusters of notes and noises birthed from the wiring of a patch, the twist of a potentiometer, the swipe of a finger on a screen, simulacra of a junk orchestra from depths of a hard drive.
Talugung / _blank marks the first CD-R issued by Toronto’s Power Moves Library, an imprint more accustomed to limited run cassettes. As with the tapes it’s a lovely thing, a thick recycled paper envelope with elegant artwork containing a home-stamped CD-R and a banana paper insert. (Although the physical is sold out now, the download is still available from the Bandcamp.) As the title suggests, it’s a split, with Ryan Waldron’s Talugung project taking four short-ish tracks and Blanca Rego, who records as _blank, adding a 20-minute slice of treated field recording. CD-R was the right choice for this release, the format providing the right level of fidelity for the content, buffing Waldron’s tonal yowls into a high sheen while casting Rego’s juddering concrete lurch into appropriate gloom.
While Rego’s piece, built from a recording made of the street outside her flat in Barcelona, has an interesting abstraction reminiscent of drone-works from the Sheepscar Light Industrial stable, it’s the Talugung cuts that exert the biggest pull. Their ferric malleability lies somewhere between the flighty cascades of Morton Subotnik’s Buchla reveries and the sonorous tangibility of a home-made instrument guru – a Bertoia or a Partch, maybe. Interesting, then, that Waldron built the pieces digitally, using samples of flutes, gongs and various bowed metal and wooden objects, then pitch shifting them into weird scales and prodding them into loops of unequal lengths. It’s a compositional strategy that explains the uncanny there/not-there nature of the recordings. But even better, those layered, unquantized repetitions, with their high-pitched rings, gentle clatter and hollow toots enable Waldron retain a kind of exploratory, almost tentative feel – best heard on tender fragility of the second track, or the jaunty dissonance of the fourth – that would be all-too easy to remove at the edit in favour of sterile assurance. This is music that basks in its innocence. That seems to come from a better, stranger place.